Grand National preview: MM’s top tips on where to put your money…

The wait is almost over… the Randox Health sponsored Grand National is nearly here.

This Saturday afternoon, thousands of Aintree-going Liverpudlians and bettors all over the country will come together to witness the most famous event on the horse racing calendar. 

Everyday gamblers, annual punters and sweepstake hopefuls will be glued to their TV come 5.15pm to watch the drama unfold from the first fence to the final furlong. 

Some will study form and follow trends, most will simply flutter by ritual or choose their favourite name to determine their pick.

But for those who still need help making their bet, look no further. Here are some horses you’d be silly not to think about adding to your slip…

Definitly Red (11/1)

A favourite hasn’t won the National since the J.P. McManus owned Don’t Push It was well clear in 2010. But this year’s favourite Definitly Red comes into the race in great form and looks well on course to disrupt that unwanted record. 

The eight-year-old is a three-time winner so far this season, winning the hurdles at Carlisle and then jumping the fences at Wetherby and Doncaster.

Trainer Brian Ellison was doubtful about his stamina last year but has been bullish in the build-up to this weekend.

“He’s much stronger this season,” he said.

More Of That (12/1)

“Nothing can beat him,” More Of That trainer Jonjo O’Neill joked at a recent big race build-up lunch. And though O’Neill was flippant in his remark, he wasn’t messing about when he said “he’s the best horse” that he has trained. 

Backers will be more than happy with that chat. 

He is the only horse to beat champion hurdler Annie Power, in a highly laudable performance which came in the 2014 World Hurdle.

Looking down the line you will struggle to find a runner with more latent talent than him and 2003 National jockey winner Barry Geraghty is the right man to put this potential into practice. 

The Last Samuri (14/1)

Hailing from the yard of Kim Bailey The Last Samuri is in great hands. She is in a select club of trainers to have won the Champion Hurdle, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. 

Though last year’s runner up will carry a stone more on his third trip over National fences, he has shown great promise in his past two runs.

That is bound to translate to a top race at a course he loves, in conditions that will play to his strengths. 

Pleasant Company (16/1)

Pleasant Company really is in pleasant company with dynamic trainer-jockey duo Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. Walsh is the best jockey among his generation and with National wins in 2000 and 2005, is on course for a remarkable hat-trick.

He beat Thunder and Roses in the Bobbyjo Chase two months back but didn’t enjoy the heavy ground there, so Aintree conditions should suit him more. 

The Young Master (20/1)

The Young Master will surely benefit from the recent schooling session over National fences. Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, who has a contemporary record of six winners over unique fences, prepped the eight-year-old enough to be a serious player come Saturday’s showpiece. 

A fabulous Bet365 Gold Cup win and a memorable Cheltenham cameo have been highlights of a good year for the Neil Mulholland trained horse.

At tempting odds, The Young Master ticks all the boxes. 

Watch out for the handicappers

Handicapping is when a horse rated higher than another is handicapped with a heavier jockey, and backing horses that benefit from the handicap is a well-known theory in the world of horse racing.

Three of the past four National winners – Auroras Encore (66/1), Pineau De Re (25/1) and Rule TheWorld (33/1) – have arguably benefited from the handicap and all have come in at tasty prices. 

There are a few horses with these advantages this year that you should watch out for. 

Highland Lodge (22/1), Saint Are (33/1) and Gas Line Boy (50/1) shouldn’t be dismissed. All three are on the right side of the handicap, and all three have been backed in.

Highland Lodge was once 25/1, Saint Are has dropped from 40s and Gas Line Boy was at an unbelievable 100/1 earlier this week!

Splitting a few quid between this trio might be the sensible option. After all, it’s much better to lose backing low on high odds than to lose backing high on low odds.

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